General Labor Union president warns against ‘some devastation’ in Lebanon amid economic crisis

Beirut: General Labor Union president Bechara al-Asmar has warned against “a certain catastrophe, as hospitalization is now available only to the wealthy.”

At a news conference on Friday, he commented on the crises facing Lebanon, including “the ongoing madness in the dollar exchange rate, insane increases in fuel prices, electricity bills, the removal of drug subsidies and the loss of depositors”. Savings resulting from bank circulation – seen as organized robbery.”

He warned that “the draft budget includes a provision to raise customs dollars, which would increase the prices of goods by 30 percent, and raise all taxes and duties.”

He added: “This is unacceptable because it involves removing subsidies on everything in exchange for one that is surrendering to the terms of the IMF without any supervision.”

The latest warning came as the ruling elite attempted to resolve its many conflicts that are stalling political and administrative progress.

President Michel Aoun has signed a decree calling on parliament to hold an extraordinary session beginning on Monday and ending on March 21.

It would restore parliamentary immunity to ministers charged with the crime of the Beirut port explosion, including the sitting MP, one of whom an arrest warrant was issued for him in his absence and who has yet to be executed.

The parliamentary session sets the stage for the transfer of power from a judicial investigator to a parliamentary body to prosecute ministers and deputies who are allegedly guilty of the blast.

Lawyer and activist Hassan Bazi stated that “the major parties to the settlements are Speaker of Parliament Nabih Beri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun.”

It follows the intense political squabble between Aun and Berry that reached its peak last week.

Bajji said the agreement took Aun to sign a decree convening Parliament for a special session.

He also said that the agenda for the parliamentary session includes amending the law, under review before the Constitutional Council – to approve only six seats for migrants to vote instead of letting them run in nationwide elections.

Bajji also indicated that Parliament may approve amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, setting up a judicial parliamentary panel to appeal the decisions of Judge Tarek Bitter, who has issued arrest warrants for several ministers.

While the cabinet is called upon to convene on this basis, Bajji said appointments to the panel will be made on quota basis, where “migrants lose the opportunity for change and the political system regains control.”

Berry and Aun tried to hide the parameters of this agreement by starting a new debate regarding a special parliamentary session.

Although the main title of the immediate session is the discussion and approval of the two draft budgets, the agenda for the presidential decree – signed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati – contains “approving laws that the president can request for reconsideration and drafts of or relating to parliamentary elections.” Proposals for urgent and necessary laws.”

Berry indicated in a statement Friday that “Parliament is independent and is not limited to any description of projects or proposals that the Bureau of Parliament decides to put forward and that the President has the right to respond after being issued by general authority.” have the right.”

The statement said: “It is a provision and jurisprudence of the Constitution.”

The president’s team replied indirectly via unnamed sources that “they don’t want to get into an argument with Berry.”

He said that Article 33 of the Constitution “stipulates that Parliament may be called by a decree for an extraordinary session to determine their opening, ending and agenda.”

Parliamentary sources responded to Aun’s party that “the procedural authority can certainly set the agenda for Parliament which it wants to see in this extraordinary session, provided that the business of Parliament is not confined to this agenda alone.” “

The agreement that is to be followed requires a re-meeting of the cabinet.

However, the group of Hezbollah lawmakers ignored governance issues and saw the urgent need to adopt laws only related to “defense, accountability and regularity of the state”, the opening of an extraordinary parliamentary session extended to the date of the general session. supported.

Questions remain whether this agreement will allow the cabinet to be convened.

Political observers indicated that the agreement between Aun and Beri – which was promoted by Hezbollah – may require the absence of ministers from Hezbollah and the Amal movement from the next cabinet session, except for the finance minister, as the cabinet needs to focus on the general budget. expected to discuss.

He added: “This is in order to resume cabinet work and to carry forward the ongoing struggle to get the port file back from Judge Bitter.”